The heartbreaking moment Ringo Starr saw John Lennon for the final time

John lennon and ringo starr

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is similar to being afraid. The same flutter in the stomach, restlessness, and yawning. “I keep swallowing,” the great writer C.S. Lewis once said. “We were promised sufferings,” he went on. “They were part of the programme. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ which I accept. I got everything I expected. Of course, it is different when something happens to oneself, not to others. And in reality rather than in one’s imagination.”

When attempting to define a singular perspective on loss and grief, it may be preferable to consult others. While almost everyone will experience their own personal feelings following the death of a loved one, the feelings of emptiness, suffering, hopelessness, and, as Lewis added, “fear” will be familiar to almost everyone. Perhaps Ringo Starr felt most deeply in that final emotion, fear, following the shocking death of his close friend and former bandmate, John Lennon.

Mark David Chapman’s murderous plot, which saw him gunned down by a crazed fan outside his New York home, is still being felt today. On December 8, 1980, Lennon was only 40 years old when he was fatally wounded by Chapman in the archway of The Dakota, a home he shared with his wife, Yoko Ono. The murder sparked an unprecedented outpouring of grief around the world.

While C.S. Lewis is correct in his assessment of personal loss and grief, what can be said about the feelings of those closest to John Lennon? Those at the height of fame, those who lived fast and shoulder to shoulder with the Beatles, now confront the abhorrent reality of a heinous and callous murder. “I just wanted to be in a band,” George Harrison famously said in response to John Lennon’s death. “Here we are, 20 years later, and some whack job has shot my mate. I just wanted to play guitar in a band,” he added.

While Harrison and McCartney attempted to present a united front, revealing glimpses of their suffering while maintaining a level of privacy with their public expression, Ringo Starr, the Beatles drummer, was unravelling in front of the world. Rushing to New York to be with Lennon’s family after his murder, Starr made a heartbreaking television appearance, undergoing an interview with Barbara Walters.

“I was staying at the Plaza, and we went to New York for a while. I hadn’t seen him in a while because, you know, we see each other wherever we go”. Starr explained with a forlorn and desperate expression on his face. “He came over with Yoko for an hour. And we had a great time because they stayed five hours. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t seen each other in a year. It was always fine when we did – but it was a particularly wonderful time for us, that I had, anyway.”

Clearly struggling with the line of questioning, Ringo Starr attempted to divert the conversation to the music. He described how it was always the band’s primary focus. However, taken aback by the realisation that Lennon was no longer with him, the drummer expressed his own personal opinion before saying, “You’ll have to ask the other two,” in reference to their thoughts on the subject at hand. As the saddened expression on his face intensifies, Starr adds, “Isn’t it funny when you say that now”. He cutt off the interviewer’s next question with a raw moment of contemplation. “You know, it’s so new to me, it kind of clogs you up. I used to say, ‘Ask the other three’. But now we can only ask two, which is inconvenient, but I’m sure he’s fine.”

After a pause, a silence that feels more genuine than anything else said in the interview, Ringo simply says, “I’m really sad. I still miss John very much, and I will always miss him. “But it is still brand new.”

The wretched expression on his face, the drooping of his eyes, and the lump in his throat all indicate that this conversation is too difficult. After explaining how he learned about Lennon’s death, stating that he received a phone call about the shooting, Starr concludes with a simple: “Do you want to stop that now?” with an almost desperate plea to move on. “It doesn’t help, and it always makes me upset,” he says.

Ringo concluded his thoughts, saying, “And then the asshole appeared,” referring to murderer Mark David Chapman. “There’s no way to understand it. You think about it, but you’ll never understand it. “The world has lost a wonderful man.”

Watch the interview below.

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